Wherever possible, Infrabel chooses to manage berms in such a way as to integrate their ecological and aesthetic values. This involves the following:
- Priority is given to mechanical weeding. Infrabel uses as little weedkiller as possible. Over recent years, this has led to a more than 95% reduction in the use of herbicides in the environment
- Infrabel only uses products approved by the Federal Public Health Service and complies with the many conditions of use imposed on the user (dosage, working periods, protective distance, etc.)
- Infrabel has made contact with the DNF (Nature and Forest Division) with a view to improving the ecological management of berms
Other measures have also been taken, such as the training and monitoring of Infrabel workers and subcontractors responsible for spraying and maintenance operations, while at the same time updating internal directives on this subject.
Unfortunately, weeding is crucial to the correct operation and safety of the railway infrastructure. No vegetation can grow in between or near to the tracks. Without regular weeding, the track ballast would no longer be able to absorb shocks or drain away rainwater. It would thus lose its electrical insulating function and frost resistance. The roadway alongside the tracks would no longer be able to be used safely, which would make inspecting the tracks impossible.
As a result, weeding is essential in order to keep the railway tracks in good condition. In this respect, Infrabel makes environmentally friendly weeding a priority. Chemical destruction is kept to an absolute minimum and is always accompanied by strict dosage control.
In order to limit as far as possible the areas where the railway lines are subjected to a weedkiller, Infrabel uses a special train equipped for this purpose. This weedkiller train combines optical-electronic technology with a powerful IT system. Specifically, a camera detects the presence of vegetation and sends this information to a computer, which automatically manages the spraying. This technology has enabled a 30% reduction in the quantity of weedkiller used and also reduced the amount of weeds on the railway lines by 30%. Every year, 10,000 kilometres of track are treated in this way.